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S/Africa: Zuma’s corruption trial postponed to next week

Former president Jacob Zuma's 22-year-old arms deal corruption case has been postponed to next week, the Pietermaritzburg High Court ruled…

Former president Jacob Zuma’s 22-year-old arms deal corruption case has been postponed to next week, the Pietermaritzburg High Court ruled on Monday.Zuma and a French arms company Thales are facing 16 charges of alleged corruption, racketeering, money laundering and fraud involving an arms deal worth US$2.1 billion in 1999 when the former president was deputy president to President Thabo Mbeki,

Among other charges, Zuma allegedly received annual payments of $70,000 as a bribe from Thales in exchange for his protection from a feared investigation into the controversial arms deal.

The alleged bribe was facilitated by Schabir Shaik, who was Zuma’s former financial adviser.

Shaik, who has since served a prison sentence following his conviction in the case, was freed from custody before completing his term on medical grounds by Zuma when the latter was president.

The former leader was expected to take a plea in Monday’s proceedings but this has been postponed to next week to give his new legal team more time to prepare for the case.

Zuma’s former lawyers left him without any explanation.

The former president’s son, Duduzane, told reporters outside the court that his father’s corruption trial needed to come to an end after so many years of running up and down.

The track record of the proceedings showed that the first defence team had vowed to fight the case, using every loophole available to them, to force the charges against Zuma to be dropped.

This might explain why the case has taken more than two decades to be finalised, even after the country’s highest courts ruled that Zuma had indeed a case to answer, reports said on Monday.

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